It’s the start of my annual whirlwind trip across countries. My first stop is Berlin via Frankfurt on Qatar Airways. Within an hour after landing I’m on a DB ICE train bound for Berlin. Just over four hours later I’m at my destination, my first trip to Berlin and I check into the Allegra Hotel (located in East Berlin). 

Like most of Europe, Germany too has seen its fair share of division, destruction, heartbreak and reunification. Since the 13th century, Germany’s capital, Berlin has gone through tough times and is, today, a monument to history. I’ve read books on the horrors that took place in Germany, the sorrow that created generations of scars, the brutal massacres, the mass murders, absolute suffering and unsolved mysteries.  

Today, the city is calm because of the start to the Easter weekend and there are so few tourists around. The outside temperature is a chilly 6C. A perfect day to explore.  

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The entrance to Horton Plains is shrouded in mist. The temperature is 16C and rising slowly. The morning air is damp and fresh dew hangs limply off the commonly found Rhododendron zeylanicum, a couple of which have already started to bloom. In one month’s time the Park will be aglow with its dark red flowers.

The sun struggles to push past the thick mist and manages to create an illusion of some cinematographic sci-fi movie scene. Along with the morning’s bird roll-call, a nearby transistor radio bleats out some popular beats from a local channel.

We buy our tickets after some small talk about ‘sightings’ of leopard and proceed into the Park.

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A visit to Jakarta, Indonesia is not complete without a visit to Jalan Surabaya, the street that has a small part of every part of Indonesia.

Jalan Surabaya is a 500-yard stretch of road that is lined with all sorts of antiques, both real and fake. The pieces are an eclectic and sometimes kirsch collection of Dutch, Javanese, Balinese, Muslim, Christian and Hindu artifacts, and include batiks, paintings, brass ware, vinyl LPs of yesteryear, salvaged accessories from ships, old coins, porcelain, puppets, lampshades, old phones and gramophones, wood carvings, jewellery, utensils, and books, among so much more.

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It’s an overcast Sunday afternoon, and while the clouds keep the sun at bay, the day is devoid of its usual humidity and seems perfect for walking. Today, like many times before, we are letting our two dogs explore the wetland.  

Almost a stone’s throw from the Parliament Complex at Sri Jayawardenapura, Kotte, the Diyasaru Uyana (formerly known as the Thalawathugoda Biodiversity Study Park), is a 60-acre urban wetland that is home to more than 80 species of wetland birds, over 40 species of butterflies, dragonflies, mammals, amphibians, fish, reptiles and other terrestrial and aquatic plant species. Adding to the list is the otter, the Purple-faced leaf monkey, a long-tailed arboreal languor endemic to Sri Lanka, and the even a couple of estuarine crocodiles.  

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It’s another day with -20C weather yet the sun shines valiantly taking away the chill and lighting up this amazing destination. And we are all excited for yet another adventure.

We get a message saying the seas are rough and to keep our fingers crossed that it will calm down by afternoon. By the time we get to the pier for the cruise our prayers have been answered and the seas have calmed down.

For the next three hours we gentle sift our way through vast swaths of icebergs and massive glaciers, past some of Earth’s most spectacular fjords and fissures. It’s hard to explain how beautiful all this is. The raw power of nature and the unfenced landscapes are stunning.

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